First of all, what is a sitemap and why do I need one?
A sitemap is a list in a XML document of the pages that are in a website. A site map is a way to tell Google about every page that are included in your web site, the most important ones and how often are they updated.
A sitemap will not improve your SEO ranking by itself, it is a way to help Google to understand your site.
You can use a dedicated free plugin called Google XML Sitemaps that will generate a special XML sitemap. It has great reviews, in the WordPress repo it has 4.9 of 5 stars. It helps you to notify all mayor search engines every time there is new content in your site.
The steps are the following:
- Install and activate the plugin (Obviously)
- The go to settings -> XML-Sitemap (at the bottom)
- It will tells you that the sitemap is not yet created, and it will tells you that you need “click here” to creat it for the first time. Click there
- Sitemap created.
- Go to Google webmaster tools
- Sing in, or sign up if you have not done it yet.
- Add your domain and click the red button that says “Add a site”
- You will need to verify that you own that domain uploading the HTML file that Google gives you thru FTP in the root of your site ( the “public_html” folder.
- Then go back to Google, and click “verify”
- After a successful Verification go to “Crawl -> Sitemaps”
- Find and click the “Add/Test Sitemap” Button
- Add your domain and add “sitemap.xml” the the end like this: “http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml”
It will say “pending” if your site is not indexed by Google, but it will take a couple of days sometimes more sometimes less to have your site indexed.
It is free, and one of the most used plugins in history of WordPress time. It has great reviews, because is not just for submitting your sitemap to Google it is a complete SEO plugin, it has more that 1 million active installs.
“This plugin is written from the ground up by Joost de Valk and his team at Yoast to improve your site’s SEO on all needed aspects. While this Yoast SEO plugin goes the extra mile to take care of all the technical optimization, more on that below, it first and foremost helps you write better content. Yoast SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere.”
To install it simply go to the WordPress repo, search for it, click install and then go to setup.
You will be able to Write better content with Yoast SEO, analyze your post or page, and much more, and of course, have your XML sitemap submitted to Google.
Once you check the box, it automatically creates XML sitemaps and notifies Google & Bing of the sitemaps existence. These XML sitemaps include the images in your posts & pages too, so that your images may be found better in the search engines too.
These XML Sitemaps will even work on large sites, because of how they’re created, using one index sitemap that links to sub-sitemaps for each 1,000 posts. They will also work with custom post types and custom taxonomies automatically, while giving you the option to remove those from the XML sitemap should you wish to.
Because of using XSL stylesheets for these XML Sitemaps, the XML sitemaps are easily readable for the human eye too, so you can spot things that shouldn’t be in there.
Go to Sitemap XML inside Yoast plugin, check the box to enable the functionality, setup as you wish, save changes.
Then from the steps listed before you can jump to step 5, and submit your sitemap to Google.
This are 2 of the most used plugins to tell the search engines, “Hey! I’m here!” But that is not the only step, the documentation in the Yoast plug in will help you getting better rankings in the searches, it is not luck, it is not magic, it is work to do in every post and page, get good content, and good keywords.